PFund By Bill Burleson
Every time I write a column about a GLBT organization, I do it to remind the reader, and myself, about how important community is to all of us, both as a group and individually. The wealth of GLBT groups we have available to us is a reminder that we are not alone, and a powerful message to those who don’t support us that we are here to stay. Does your homophobic uncle think there shouldn’t be resources for kids that are LGBT friendly? Too bad: Rainbow Rumpus thinks differently, and has an on-line magazine for kids with LGBT parents. Does the loudmouth at the PTA meeting think GLBT issues shouldn’t be addressed in schools? Tough for him, since the Minnesota School Outreach Coalition is there supporting Gay-Straight Alliances, working on conferences, and doing trainings for educators. Does anyone believe that the gay world is all about youth, and we’ll all live lonely lives once we are no longer in our twenties? Check out GLBT Generations. Oh, but this is all stuff in the Metro area, right? There’s nothing in the heartland; good old traditional small towns and all. Better not tell that to the people at the LGBT Resource Center in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. What do these four organizations and 14 more have in common? They all received help from PFund. Thursday, May 3, was the combined annual PFund Grantee and Scholarship Celebration, and representatives from various organizations gathered at the William Mitchell College of Law to network, promote their groups, meet the donors, and generally celebrate their community. PFund is our very own Twin Cities based little-
engine-that-could of a foundation dedicated to helping just these sorts of organizations and community projects grow. And I just joined the board. If you’ve read this column in the past, you know my modus operandi is to immerse myself in what ever organization I am writing about. That’s why I joined the Board at PFund: to write this column. No, not really. Joining a board is a big commitment not to be taken lightly. But I did join for the same reason I have this column: because I believe in the need for GLBT community. Where better way to help community organizing than PFund? PFund started in 1987 with four people donating a total of $2,000, and now it manages over a million in assets. Yet even though they’ve grown, they’ve never lost their focus on helping the little non-profit, the small group just getting off the ground, that may be too small to get noticed by other, larger, foundations. Take TransVoices, for example. What does their $1,500 grant mean to them? “Survival. It allows us to continue,” says Kathleen Culhane of TransVoices. And having TransVoices in our community is so important. According to Kathleen, “It allows us to put a public face on an under-appreciated community.” Or consider the afore-mentioned LGBT Resource Center for the Seven Rivers Region in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Kari Marshall, a La Crosse native, says their $3000 grant “makes it so we have the ability to be there to help.” They weren’t able to have a Pride celebration in 2005 and 2006, but there was a lot of desire to bringing it back. With the help of PFund, look for the La Crosse Pride Fair to return August 18th. “The grant helped us get a prime location.”
Giving grants to GLBT organizations is all about creating community. But so are the scholarships. Why? Because it is at once about acknowledging and encouraging new leaders, while at the same time being there for them as a community. What does it mean to get a scholarship? According to Angela Voight, a 4th year medical student, it allows her “to work for needs of the entire GLBT community so we get the healthcare we deserve.” The scholarships are donated by individuals and organizations, and can be so very rewarding not just to the recipient but also the giver. “I believe in young people,” says Peter Freund, scholarship donor. “Charity begins at home. I think we should support each other first.” PFund is growing and changing. The much loved Kit Briem left a little over a year ago to work as development director at the International Wolf Center. She saw PFund through incredible growth. Barbara Satin filled in as Interim Director, and now Greg Griney is at the helm, leaving his job at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and after seven years of service on the board of PFund. Plus, PFund has just received two grants aimed at growing the organization by funding a full-time development and communications person. It seems PFund is here to stay. And that means so will many of the little and not so little organizations that make up our community.
Find out more about PFund, and the organizations it funds, at www.philanthrofund.org. Have a group that would like to be written about? Have an event you need publicized? Contact me at www.forwhomthebilltolls.org